How Italian photographers perceive architecture

As a young Italian art historian, I’ve always been intrigued by the intersection between photography and architecture. Through ISSUE .07 I’ve recently discovered three young and talented Italian artists, Emanuele Tresca, Giulia Parlato and Lisa Gallo.

I felt there was a deep and unaware connection between them due to their common cultural background, the Italian culture. I noticed that some of the photographs of these brilliant artists embraced a particular regard to architecture, I found the perfect tool to confirm my theory: the conscious or unconscious interest of architecture is typically Italian.

I’ll begin with Emanuele Tresca who, despite his young age, has a clear vision of architecture in his works. “The concept of architecture is in constant development”, Emanuele told me. “It started with a scenography role, as a sort of backstage of human life events”. When Emanuele moved his first steps into the world of photography, he aimed at renovating the perception of historical buildings and monuments, sweeping out the typical “touristic point of view” he wondered about their impact in daily life. Focusing on our everyday life, he began to pay more attention to the functional and common aspects of architecture, which usually include houses, garages, bus stops, courtyards…any kind of basic building. The majority of this type of architecture is in a dirty and neglected condition, because the aesthetic value is not considered. These shots taken by Emanuele don’t want to report the state of abandonment of our cities, but would like to show the human being’s presence, through its effects, its tracks. In conclusion, Emanuele underlined, “In the architecture I see the laziness, inaccuracy and the neglect of the human being”.

Fig. 1. Emanuele Tresca, Spigoli, 2019.

Fig. 2. Emanuele Tresca, Punto di Fuga, 2019.

Giulia Parlato, is a young visual artist, who moved from her motherland, Sicily, to the United Kingdom in order to pursue her studies. In her works her cultural background appears as an elegant tool to investigate about existential questions or topics. Giulia said “Thanks to my family, to my mum, who works in the Cultural Heritage field, I have always had a particular interest for architecture, as much as for archaeology and all kinds of cultural heritage”. But in Giulia’s eyes architecture and archaeology are not to be considered only for their beauty: “Archaeological and architectural findings are fragments of human narration which can be defined in different ways. The space where they are newly located, such as museums of archaeological parks, could influence they way these objects are perceived and interpreted”. Photography turns into a perfect occasion to investigate about the meaning of history in all its angles. According to Giulia, Italian architecture faces many restraints imposed by the burden of historical legacy, which may be an inspiration or also a limitation.

Fig. 3. Giulia Parlato, In Preservation, in Destruction I Feel Trapped, 2019.

Fig. 4. Giulia Parlato, Excavation, 2019, from the series Collateral Histories by Giulia Parlato and Giovanna Petrocchi.

Compared to the previous photographers, Lisa Gallo experiments a very different approach to architecture. During the lockdown in March, she started a new project based on the idea of mixing art and psychological self-introspection. In Status who Lisa decided to express through photography “that fragile and freezing atmosphere which I believe all of us experienced during the lockdown”. Her studies in Psychology give her the ability to look into the darkness and depth of human emotions remaining rational and analytic. “Behind each project, behind each photo there is a long journey”, Lisa explained, “the project phase lasts longer than the executive one, it is a scrupulous and slow work”. In this investigation, architecture plays a central role, because it gives the opportunity to transform her personal experience into a universal one. Her work is not self-referenced, but it wants to talk about all human beings. Lisa’s talent is to show through rational and clear photographic diptychs the controversy of human existence. There is always a polar situation, which is expressed by bringing together two opposite architectural elements, such as open and closed spaces or dark and lights rooms or wasted lands and cosy family houses.

Fig. 5. Lisa Gallo, QT8: Quartiere Sperimentale Ottava Triennale, 2019.

Fig. 6. Lisa Gallo, QT8: Quartiere Sperimentale Ottava Triennale, 2019.

Author, Alessia Chiarenza - Linkedin; Instagram

Illustrations and Photographers featured in this Article Fig. 1-2, Emanuele Tresca - Instagram

Fig. 3-4, Giulia Parlato - Personal Website

Fig. 5-6, Lisa Gallo - Personal Website